Christ is risen!
It is not for much longer that we will hear these marvelous words from the church ambo. The all-Church celebration of this great solemnity, this salvific work of God is coming to an end. Together with the angels in heaven, we sang the resurrection of Christ; together with Apostle Thomas, we called out, “My Lord and my God!” having met the Savior; together with the myrrh-bearers, we ran to the empty tomb, carrying our pain, our sadness, our sorrow and received the good news; like the paralytic, we were raised by Christ from the death of sin to pure life; and like the Samaritan woman who left her clay pot by the ancient well and ran to tell the people in the city about the coming of the Messiah, Christ urges us to leave the muddy waters of the worldly and the sinful and drink from the ever-flowing Divine source, leading us into eternal life.
But these holy days are coming to an end: in three days we will mark the apodosis of Pascha and on Thursday celebrate the Ascension of the Lord—our hope in our ascension—us healed, raised, cleansed by the blood of the Savior in His united, undivided Body—the Holy Church. As we watch these last Paschal days pass, the Holy Church wants to strengthen our Paschal joy in anticipation of the feast of the Ascension and teach us that Christ, Whom we now do not see with our physical eyes, is here among us, visible to the eyes of the spirit. In the Gospel reading, the Church tells us about the wisdom of the blind man and warns us against the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees.
In the Gospel reading, we heard how Christ healed the blind man, gave sight to a man who had been born blind. Behold, a miracle! “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind” (John 9:32). But isn’t the stubborn blindness of those who should be able to see even more surprising? Isn’t the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees more amazing? Spiritual blindness defies not only faith, not only the miracle, but even common sense itself. “Who is He?”—asks spiritual blindness; “A prophet!”—answers faith (John 9:17). “How did He open your eyes?”—persists spiritual blindness, not looking for an answer; “I already told you and you did not listen,”—responds faith (John 9:27). “We do not know him or from where He is!”—declares spiritual blindness rejecting Christ, turning away from Him (John 9:29); “Indeed, it is strange that He gave sight to the one born blind, but you do not know from where He is,”—marvels faith (John 9:30). “He is a sinner!”—yells spiritual blindness, trying to smear all that is bright and heavenly with dirt (John 9:24); “God does not listen to sinners” (John 9:31),—wise faith teaches those who are spiritually blind, “But this One performed a miracle from God.” The false pastors of the Jewish people are mad: “He violates our habits, He heals a man on the Sabbath; He wants us to open our eyes, wash dirt off our faces and look at the sun, but we are used to our dirt, our eyelids are shut with sin and our eyes do not see the sky; He calls us up, but we are more comfortable in a moldy basement. Kill! Drive him out!”—and they seek to kill the Savior and drive out the saved (John 9:34).
Aren’t the spiritually blind of all times the same? Don’t they also drive Christ from their hearts and lives under the mask of piety, often not even bothering with a mask? Offering to us the Gospel story about blindness in this the last Sunday of Pascha, the Holy Church calls all who thirst for healing from spiritual blindness to turn to the source of light and to follow the wise faith of the one who was born blind. Because we also, blinded from birth by our sins, look at the world through the empty eye sockets of our hardened hearts. But the resurrection of Christ, the light shining for the world from the gaping eye socket of the tomb by Golgotha, gives resurrection to us also, opens our eyes, shines into our hearts, lifts us up to the heavenly Sun, if in simplicity of faith we can accept the grace which heals us, if we do not stubbornly choose our spiritual blindness. If we stop hiding from God behind the blinds of false piety, behind the false faзade of external decorations, and turn to Christ the Savior in simplicity of faith, then the Son of God will find us also, as He found the man born blind, and reveal Himself to us, and strengthen our faith.
Let us turn to Christ with a fervent prayer to heal our eyes, our hearts, our whole person on the holy day of the Lord’s Sabbath, the Day of the Lord; and let us carry our Paschal joy through the next few days, through the next year, and, as the foundational principle through our whole life.
“Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!” (St. John Chrysostom)
Source: Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov’s blog